February 26, 2009

Why I choose wooden toys

Sometimes I drive along thinking about topics for my blog and I got to thinking about wooden toys and why I choose them.   First of all I have to admit that if the majority of MDC mothers do it, I usually follow suit.  That is what got me into wood toys, from there I did my research.  Here are some reason's, off the top of my head.

1./ They are more the most part more aesthetically pleasing to look at.  I will happily set up Everly's wood toys in our living room, but a pile of plastic is just an eyesore to me.

2./ They hold up better.  When a wood toy gets used and abused it just looks antiqued... when a plastic toy gets old it looks worn out and grubby.

3./ Plastics have "plasticizer's" in them which aren't good.  Things like BPA and phthalates... yucky.  Not good for kids.

4./ The act of making a plastic toy creates a lot of pollution.  IMO it is worse than using a renewable resource like a tree.

5./ They tend to be simpler in design, which can mean more use of the imagination and less "do-dads" to distract the child.

6./ You really can't find many "junky" wooden toys... on the other hand there are so many plastic toys that are just junk.  Stuff that is a novelty for a while and will later end up in a landfill.  When you buy a wood toy you think out your purchase since they aren't cheap.

February 25, 2009

Strong Will

It seems like just when I get used to a stage, and have figured out how to avoid any meltdowns, we move into a new stage.  Pookie seems to be moving into a phase where she really wants to do what she wants to do... now!  Her fuse is short these days (for her anyways).  In past months I have had a handful of tricks to make getting dressed, leaving the house/ play centre etc.  go relatively smoothly, but now those "tricks" aren't working anymore.  

I have read quite a bit on consensual living and subscribe to a CL yahoo group.  I am definitely inspired by some of the ideas behind it, but do not aspire to be fully consensual.  As much as possible I try to allow Pookie to do what she wants to do, as long as she is not going to get hurt or hurt others.  When it is practical I try to do things in the way she would like them done, but sometimes I need her to do what I want.  For example not put her smelly damp bathing suit on.  Before I really prided myself in being able to say something to make the situation OK with Pookie, or find an acceptable alternative.  These days, if she doesn't get her way it leads to a temper tantrum.  Which always leaves me feeling like I am not being a good parent.  Rationally I know that isn't true, but I still feel that way.

I think we definitely need to shift how we interact with Pookie now and let her feel in control as much as we can.  I am hoping I figure out this phase relatively quickly!!  I am feeling pretty happy with our decision to wait on baby #2.

Getting more structured

I have never been one to impose schedules on Pookie.   It took a full year before we really started to set up routines for bedtime, and morning routines.  For a while now our Mon, Wed, Fri (tue/ thurs I work) mornings involve an outing - to the pool, indoor playground or a free play centre.  This has worked out really well!  Our afternoons have been totally unstructured, so I have decided to make sure we do a few structured activities each afternoon.   She has been enjoying doing these things.  They seem to put her in a good mood and she is happier doing her own imaginative, creative play.  I also feel good at the end of the day.

1./  Arts & Crafts - it can be simple pen drawings or more elaborate projects

2./ Circle Time - we started doing this last week and she loves it.  We lay down a rug first (she loves getting it out and putting it down), and then we sing some songs like "I'm a little teapot" "Grand old duke of york" etc... we also hop around like bunnies, stretch like cats, jump like frogs etc...  She gets so excited we have been only able to do part of each song, so the whole thing takes about 5 minutes. :P

3./ Montessori inspired activity - like playing with beans, puzzles etc.  Lately she hasn't been into this kind of thing, and has been opting for dramatic play with her dolls, kitchen etc.  I just offer it and if she isn't interested that's fine.

4./ Dancing - we throw on some tunes and dance, or just run around and jump off stuff.

5./ Playdough

I am not really into baking.  I like doing it, just not eating it.  I find if I bake muffins etc.  we just eat them all so fast and opt for them instead of healthier options.  My mom on the other hand likes to bake and has been doing it with Pooks.  I am glad she gets to do this activity.  Maybe when she gets a bit older I will be more motivated. 

February 18, 2009

Another Plastic Purge

My current interest is reading up on Waldorf Education.  I am off to the library to get "You are your child's first teacher".   Seeing all the pictures of the waldorf-esque playrooms out there, I became inspired to purge more of our plastic toys.  They are mostly gifts so I have felt bad with giving them away.  Pookie does have a few that are well used and loved.  For example she just adored her Little People Farm set, so we will keep that, but much of the other junk is doing.  I am just hoping my husband doesn't intervene.  He has a hard time parting with things... especially gifts.

I really want to clear out the basement more so that we can convert the space under the stairs into a little hideaway for Pookie.  I was hoping it would be done for her second birthday.  However first my lovely husband has to deal with his piles of junk (he gets so mad when I refer to it as that).  

Now Pookie is on the mend I am looking forward to once again getting back to our routine we had been building.  I want to create a set time we do arts & crafts on Mon, Wed & Fri, and another set time for additional reading.   I can't wait for the weather to get nice and to be able to happily go outside everyday.  I just can't get myself to do it in the winter... espcially on nasty cold, muddy, snowy days like today.

February 15, 2009

Fun at the Mall

Today we went to the mall to avoid going stir crazy.   It seemed low-key enough for Pookie.  We got her a new skirt from the Gap.  I would be happy buying all her clothes from there.  I love how everything coordinates and holds up so well.  They always have great sales too.  Anyways Pookie really only wants to wear tights for some reason, and will agree to wear a shirt.  So when I saw the cutest skirt at the Gap I couldn't resist.  She loved it so much we had to put it on right after we bought it.  She was so funny in the Gap.  She ran around and wanted everything.  It is funny how into clothes & shoes she is.  She has very particular ideas about what she wants to wear, and how she wants to wear stuff.  I love putting her in cute comfy outfits but I am really not that into fashion, so it definitely isn't from seeing me getting all dolled up. 

We were sitting on a bench having a drink and she starts saying "beeee beeee".  I wasn't sure what she was getting at so I asked her "where is the B".  She looked up at a "Bikini Bay" sign and pointed excitedly "beeee beee".   It was really weird!!  We have been doing www.starfall.com with her everyday, but we mostly do the letter E.    I try to point letters out to her all the time but "B" really hasn't been one I have been focusing on.  She is definitely starting to really notice letters, and even when she draws she will scribble and say "Eeeeee".  

Yogurt Painting

This morning we let Daddy sleep in so I decided to give yogurt painting a try.  I just put it on tin foil and added some food colouring.  It was a HUGE hit!   Pooks didn't really like getting her hands dirty so we switched to a paint brush and baster.  I showed her how you could use your finger to write in it.  We did lots of letter E's since she loves "EEEEE".   I think she stuck with it for about 20 minutes and then she was done.  We will definitely do it again. 

February 14, 2009

Playful Parenting

Last summer I read Playful Parenting.  It is a highly recommended book over at MDC.  Pookie was only just over a year so although I found the book wonderful it wasn't very useful.  Now that she is almost 2 I am finding this approach really helpful.  I actually think I need to re-read it.  One of the "playful" things I do with Pookie is use her baby to make certain things more fun.  For example at night after she uses her potty she is often reluctant to get in bed. If I take one of her babies and do a silly voice and say "mommy I am going to go put my head on the pillow" and then walk the baby over... well Pookie just LOVES this and gets all excited about getting in bed.   Overall I try to connect with Pooks on a daily basis by just having fun with her and doing really silly things.  I think that has really strengthened our bond.  My husband also naturally parents this way.

One of the authors ideas is to set aside a special time called "PlayTime", where you happily follow your child's lead.  I try to do this all the time but sometimes I do like to make suggestions.  I like the idea of setting aside this time and being really diligent about letting Pookie lead the fun... even if it might not seem so fun for me. :P 

One of our fun games... that is totally silly but Pookie loves is when I throw pillows at her.  I know it probably sounds horrible, but she loves having a big pillow come flying across the room and land on her.  The author also believes in roughhousing.  It is funny because usually it is the Dad that takes on this role but so far I am much more adventurous on this front.  Pooks loves it when we do crazy physical things.  I think she likes seeing all the different ways her body can move, or be moved.  I also think doing this type of thing will make her more confident to try new physical things, and also stronger to do those new things. 

Trying to understand timeouts for 1 year olds

I try very hard not to judge other people, but I find it extremely hard to do since developing such strong views on how I parent Pookie.  The concept of not using rewards punishment, & praise was new to me, but it really made sense.  From year of teaching ballet I came to my own conclusions that my goal was to get the kids to WANT to work hard all on their own, and to WANT to follow the rules because they made sense and it was in their best interest.  When I first started I leaned towards a lot of praise, and some punishment.  Since moving away from this model, my students have become harder working, better behaved and better dancers IMO.   Although it is very hard to use this method on older students who have never been taught how to push themselves.  I am having that problem now.  I find some of my older students need me to yell at them (they have actually requested it!),  or set up competitions constantly to get them to do their best. 

Anyways I was lying in bed last night trying to understand why a one year old needs timeout? (I don't plan to every use timeouts, but I find the use of them on 1 year olds more perplexing then on an older child)? I post on a very mainstream May 2007 board.  It seems like most of the mom's use timeouts, and I can't even think of what might warrant one.  Is it just that Pookie is really well behaved or is it just that what others might see as a problem that needs to be disciplined I see as a chance to redirect or educate.  Last night Pookie was standing on her booster chair, after asking her to sit with no results, I explained to her that she might fall down and hurt herself.  After she did a bit of a demonstration of falling and hurting herself she chose to sit there on her own.  I think Alfie Kohn really articulated it well when he said something along the lines of that you need to think of your long term goals as a parenting.  Using timeouts, bribes etc. certainly might get results, but in the long term it doesn't necessarily lead to the kind of child I want Everly to be.

My Little Ballerina

Pookie continues to enjoy anything ballet related.  She gets very upset if she knows I am going to teach and she isn't coming.   I have tried to get her to sit on a mat while I teach, instead of in the sling, because at 24 pounds she is getting heavy for just one shoulder.  She will sit on the mat for a while and then every so often she starts doing her stretches, or she will go over to the piano bench and use it as a barre to do her leg lifts and plies.  It is so cute and I have a hard time not watching her.

This morning we put on a ballet outfit - as pictured above.  She now has very specific ideas about what she wants to wear.  She felt really great in this outfit and was all excited that I was going to take some pictures. 

Although I am excited to enroll her in a ballet class, I have mixed feelings about her really getting into it.  I had such a hard time with the body image aspects, as well as never feeling like I was good enough... even when I was.  Because I did so much dancing I never got to do other activities and never was able to participate in sports or other things.   I want Pooks to be able to try lots of different things, before she settles on one or two activities to focus on.   

I have had many students who do so many activities sometimes 2 or 3/ night.  Their parents push them to excel in everything and yet they can never get very good at ballet because their schedules don't allow for adequate practice.  They often seem tired and distracted, or some of them are hyper active.  I think it is really important to find a balance that works for your child.  One of the reason's I like the idea of homeschooling is because kids have the time and focus to do other things without being worn out from hours of school.   I have several homeschooled kids and they really are different (in a good way) from the other kids.  

February 13, 2009

Pookie is sick

Since Christmas Pookie has had a cough.  It has come and gone, so I didn't think much of it.  Last weekend she got really congested and was obviously sick.  I took her to the doctor on Monday and have been back 2 more times this week.  Basically she had a cold, it turned into a lung infection and now she has all the symptoms of asthma.  The doctor assured me she doesn't actually have asthma.  She doesn't seem that much better, but I am hopeful that over the weekend she improves and we don't have to go back.  Apparently a few years ago they would of hospitalized her for a week or two but now they get the parents to do the treatments at home.  That kind of scared me.  She has to do breathing treatments... which I really don't like.  I just feel really upset about the whole thing.  Apparently breastfeeding doesn't make you immune to everything. 

February 9, 2009

Learning Colours

I am trying my best to work colours into our every day life, so Pookie will learn them.  She just isn't that interested to be honest.  Although today I pointed out her undies were blue and she said "bluuu" quite a few times.  Later when we were drawing she picked up the blue crayon and said "Undeeeee".   It was quite exciting because it was the first time she seemed to really make that kind of observation on her own.  When she said it I agreed that the crayon was blue and quickly grabbed all the blue things I could for her to look at.

Then I had this great idea.  I just bought her some wooden letters for the fridge.  They come in four colours, so i coloured 4 pieces of paper each in one of the colours and I showed her how to put all the reds on the red paper etc.  She did this at the play centre a couple months ago but putting coloured bears in their corresponding bowl.  Today she was NOT into it.  Oh well... maybe another day!

Drawing at 21 months & EC update

Pookie is 21 months today.  This morning we did some drawing.  Of course she insisted on using a pen.  I think she likes the tiny lines she can make with it.  I am just so impressed with how she holds the pen.  I can remember being taught the correct way to hold a pencil.  I let her do whatever she wanted and then I stole an idea from a Kumon book I was flipping threw at the bookstore yesterday.  I drew two dots and showed her how to draw a line from one dot to the other.    She had a hard time understanding you stop at the second dot but she loved doing this nonetheless.  Then I drew some circles and asked her if she could draw a circle.  I think she does a pretty good job!

I also drew some pictures of underwear for her to colour in (or over :P ).  Her new favourite word is "UNDEE".  She is quite aware that she gets to wear underwear instead of a diaper and she really loves picking them out.  On the EC front... I don't even think about putting her in a diaper during the day anymore.  Now I am starting to wonder when I will consider her potty trained.

February 8, 2009


The older Pookie gets the more I research all the things I should be doing with her.  The biggest thing I have come away with is that if I offer a stimulating environment and let her explore and play I don't need to worry.  But I still do!  I am trying to do more things with her and to join in when she is playing if she wants me too - which she usually does.  I got out a bag of chick peas and set up with activity for her.  She loves it and will ask for "beeee".  

Should I be doing more arts & crafts with her?  This is my newest stressor.  She loves doing A/C at the play centre so now I feel guilty I don't have adequate supplies at home.  That is my project for this week.  Get her some things to work with - some glue, pictures to stick, stickers etc..   We have been doing lots of drawing.  She prefers pen, and holds the pen correctly.  She even leans in and makes tiny scribbles.  Sometimes she will point to a squiggle and say "E".  The first time this happened she actually pointed to something she had drawn which looked exactly like an E.  Oh course I freaked out and thought she was a genius, but her other attempts to make an E bare no resemblance. 

Well she is calling me!  Apparently bath-time is over.

February 4, 2009

Child Friendly Home

I have really been aiming to have a home that has area's for Pookie to play in all over.   Our dining room is a bit of an awkward space.  Too big for just a table, but too small for much else.  We decided that one end would be perfect for Pooks table and kitchen.  That has worked out really well.  Now that she is getting older I want to set up a nook for art supplies.  I grabbed some old shelves from upstairs and brought them down.  It isn't exactly what I had in mind, but it will do.  I love that I can put our boom box on top.  It is leading to lots more dancing!  

In the picture it looks like there is quite a bit of space between the end of the table and where the kitchen is but it is only a foot or so.  I'd love to do something to define the kitchen a bit more but I am at a loss.  Creativity is not one of my strengths.  I just freeze up and think all my ideas are garbage.  

We really need to get some pictures up on the wall.  I was thinking about doing a collage of different sized and style frames (not too small though), with family pictures in them.   We have been in this house for almost 1.5years and I just can't commit!

I am just completely in love with a house I found on MDC... and now this woman's blog is one of my fav's.   I love finding new blogs that are updated frequently and are interesting and inspiring. 

Early Years Centre

We are really fortunate that the Ontario government funds "Early Years Centres".  These are free play centres for children 0-6.  There are some programs you can register for, and times where you can just go in and use their wonderful toys.  All the toys have a purpose - no junky gadgets.  Pookies favourite activity is arts & crafts.  Today they had paints out which she loved.  She also really loved pouring glue on her hand.  I got some weird looks from some of the other parents,  but she was just exploring and it wasn't hurting anyone.  

Today a little girl (3) played with her for a bit, which she really enjoyed.  That is also why I like going to the EYC - it gives Pooks a chance to play with other children.  

Usually the other mom's, grandparents etc. are either quite nice or just fade into the background but there are now two mom's who really get on my nerves.  

Mom #1 is the screamer.  She is always yelling at her kid, who from what I can see is never doing anything wrong.  Her daughter is perfectly well behaved, but the littlest thing sets this mom off.  I feel bad that the poor kid can never do anything right.  It is always awkward because she is so loud and overall people tend to use quite voices in this place.

Mom #2 was there today and she an over controller.  Anything her kids (4 & 6) chose to do she had to tell them how to do it, or what to do.  I never once saw the kids initiate any play.  Her daughter sat down and just stared at the arts & crafts table, and then the mom basically micro-managed her art work.  Even with the play dough she was constantly instructing them how exactly they needed to play with it.  It made me feel incredibly uncomfortable to watch.  Her kids acted like robots and she was proud.  

February 3, 2009

Phase 2 of sleepweaning

Pooks is so good at going to bed now without nursing I am moving to phase 2.  Now the plan is I tuck her into the twin bed that is against our queen, sing her 2 songs and leave.  I have done it a couple times now, and if she sits up and asks where I am going I just tell her, "mommy is going pee pee".  Which usually is true - I just don't mention coming back or not coming back.  Last night she called for me and I just called in and said I was doing pee pee, and she must of gone back asleep.  I just forsee it being really useful to be able to leave her to fall asleep on her own, once another baby comes into the picture.

Now if I could just have some progress with night-weaning.  Right now I nurse her and try to get her to go back into the little bed for her first two wakenings.  After that she comes in the queen with me and hubby goes into the little bed.  Last night she actually rolled back in those first two times on her own  - although she didn't sleep well until she got into the big bed.  I am hoping the fact that she rolled back in on her own is progress.  I think it will be beneficial to have her sleep in her own bed - even if it is against our.

February 2, 2009

Making Friends + no TV morning

Pooks just LOVES big girls.  Anyone who is about 3 or older.  Today we went to the indoor play centre and towards the end of our visit some older girls showed up.  She got so excited and pointed to them and proceeded to start following them.  One of them who was 3 or 4, quickly took Pooks under her wing.  This little girl was so sweet and quiet.  She led Pooks through the jungle gym, went down the slide with her, ran around holding hands with her.  It was the sweetest thing ever, and Pooks was so happy.  She was BEAMING!!  Then two other little girls wanted to play with the girl P was playing with.  The little girl told them that P had to play with them too.  Then P started playing with THREE little girls.  I almost got choked up because even though she was a "baby" to them I could see what a big girl she is becoming.  They all played so nice and when we left there were lots of hugs and kisses.  

It was actually very striking today the differences between the boys and girls.... it made me really scared to have a boy!!  They are so energetic, and pushy and crazy.  I usually figure this is mostly because people often parent boys differently.... but when EVERY boy is that way it certainly seems part of it is just that boys are different?!

This morning I fought the urge to go watch TV when I got up.  I was really tired and just wanted to vege, but I resisted and actually enjoyed our morning much more.   I think after a couple of weeks I should be out of the TV habit.

February 1, 2009

No TV this week

Pookster really only watches kids TV with my husband.  I will occasionally show her something on youtube - like some ballet, or horses etc.  I do however wake up, grab my breakfast and vege in front of the TV.  Pookie really doesn't pay that much attention to the TV, but she doesn't fully ignore it.  I also started watching Little House on the Prairie (I admit it I love that show), with Pookie while Jeff makes dinner.  

I want to stop .  It isn't that I think TV is evil or anything but I do want to avoid it for as long as possible when it comes to Pooks.   So I am blogging about this to keep me accountable.  I am going to aim to go this entire week without letting Pooks see any TV at all, and hopefully I can rework my morning routine.  

We will see how it goes!

Alien/ Robot Dance Party

Today we went to this family dance party which took place at a fancy downtown nightclub.  I didn't really have any expectations, other than that I thought it would be in a one room club and be good but not super fun.  It was so much fun and so well put together.  The club was huge with multiple levels, and different rooms.  There was a big room for dancing where they had people dressed as robots and aliens, and they would have dance offs.  There was a smaller room with more dancing, and beach balls to play with and glow in the dark drawing to do.  Downstairs they had cardboard castles (big!) to draw on and a book nook.  It had a Yo Gabba Gabba theme - a show my husband loves to watch with Pookie on the computer.

We went with our couple friend, who have two children - we went to the Zoo and pool with them last week.  It was funny being at a club with them because they often went to the same club Jeff and I used to go to.  Who knew all those years ago... a decade ago... that we would be hanging out at a club with our kids.

Pookie had a lot of fun.  She just loves our friend's older daughter who is a year older.  She can even say her name already - which is HUGE for Pooks.    Now if you mention her buddies name her face lights up... SO CUTE!!

There were a lot of slings, and carriers and breastfeeding mom's which was nice to see.  Actually there were a lot of Dad's wearing carriers.  Jeff has always enjoyed wearing Pooks but we have only seen one of two other Dad's using a carrier since Pooks was born.

I had fun talking to T.  She is also an AP mom, and the first I know with a child older than mine, so it is nice to listen to her experiences.   She also makes being a mom of 2 look easy... which I think puts Jeff at ease! 

No more nursing to sleep... well almost

Today my husband calls me into the bedroom to show me what Pookie is doing.  She is sitting with her newest Corolle baby doll, with her arm around it her shirt up (well as up as she could get it, and was reading a book.  This is exactly what we do everynight before bed.  She even had her arm around the doll in the same way.  She loves nursing her babies, and also likes me to do it.  She even makes her little plastic animals nurse from each other.  The pig is a big favourite because it clearly a mommy pig with all its teets. :P

Anyways it has been almost a month and Pooks no longer wants to nurse to sleep at bedtime.  I nurse her for about 30 minutes+ while we read books then when I reach to turn off the lights I unlatch her and we are done.  She snuggles into bed and acts like she will just go to sleep... but usually it takes another 10 minutes.  First I sing to her and then I just lay there with her until she dozes off.   It has made bedtime SO much less stressful.  It was just too hard lying there for so long nursing her and fighting to stay awake.

We have made no progress with nightweaning.  I attempted to get her to sleep in the twin bed, which she does fine until the second time she wakes up at night.  Then it is miserable.  I think we will start her out in there and only try to keep her there on the weekends, and let her slowly get used to it.  She doesn't outright object but the past two nights she has been so restless.

More good news is that she seems to be staying asleep until Jeff and I go to bed.  This is AMAZING!  It is so nice not having to run up to her half way through a TV show. :)

I bought the "No Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers" and I am finding it helpful.  Most of the tips I already was aware of but it is motivating to read and I feel like now I can come up with a realistic plan.